Our speedboat left the island at 8:15pm on Tuesday and headed to Male’. We were due to get our 2nd dose of vaccine. If you’re wondering why so late in the evening – because it’s Ramadan. We cannot get the jab if we hadn’t had meals and the vaccine centers start at 9pm.
I was pretty excited, not because I was getting fully vaccinated but because earlier that day, me and my two colleagues planned an escape route. There were four vaccine centers, and we planned to go to the farthest, assuming there will be less cue, so we can get our jabs quickly and get a chance to buy some food and stuff in Male’. They wanted to buy shirts; I wanted to purchase pajamas because all my pajamas were really worn out, and the garters were loose as bacon. I only have two left, and I’m still using them even though one of them is torn.
However, just before we left the island, we were instructed to go to the nearest center from the jetty, the National Art Gallery. Mission aborted.
We arrived at Male’ at 8:45pm, and the cue was already quite long outside the vaccine center. The people on the desk didn’t want to start until 9pm. There was a separate line for locals (which was their priority) and a separate line for foreigners or ex-pat workers. When I found out that only 100 foreigners will get the vaccine as per quota, I asked Muffin to count the number of people in front of us, and we were relieved that the three of us, the only three foreigners within our group, were within the first fifty.
We sat on the ground while waiting. For every two foreigners that went in the center, they let in three to five locals, so the three of us had to wait much longer.
Halfway through the cue, my two escape buddies sent me messages that they were done. And when I asked how and why they said they went to another vaccine center which was faster. I asked them why they didn’t take me, and both were speechless.
So I sat there with Muffin and one more colleague, reading my book and then checking social media. I didn’t notice that I finished all my data already, and it ate up all my phone credits which was bad because I would need to make calls in case of emergency. And I wanted to ask my buddies who escaped by themselves to buy food from me.
It didn’t occur to me that I could have actually left the cue while Muffin stood for me, and buy stuff from nearby shops instead of sitting there, wasting my time away.
There was not much social distancing within the cue. People were walking by. A lot of people were going here and there, sitting near the park behind the Mosque.
At about 10pm, I was able to finally enter the vaccine center. It was actually quite fast inside. I don’t know why waiting outside seemed like an eternity. At 10:30pm, I was out of the center. That includes my sudden turok, which made me want to say, aray ko naman teh!, fifteen minutes of waiting after getting the jab which was even shortened to 10minutes when the checker asked me if I was feeling ok and I said I was ok.
When I got out of the center, I was starving and thirsty. I saw two colleagues and one of them was heading to City Garden to buy a sandwich. I said I’d go with him. But I headed to a different shop called Chiking that served meals similar to KFC.
The sliding door was open. I looked for signboards that said it’s open, but I didn’t find any. I only saw a sign that said, take a risk by not wearing a mask inside.
There were only two diners on one corner, and the staff was just chitchatting. I walked to the counter and asked the lady standing outside the counter if they were open. When she said yes, she handed me the menu, and I ordered a chicken burger. By then, I was drooling. And for some reason, I ordered an additional fries and cola and then realized I didn’t need cola because I could only eat once I get back to the island, and cola is available in our canteen anyway. They said I had to wait for 15minutes. I stood there, away from all of them. Then I remembered I wanted water, so I ordered one.
I received a call from that colleague who went to City Garden. He asked where I was because everyone has gotten back into the speedboat. I was the only one missing. So I asked the counter staff to hurry as the boat was about to leave me. Once I got my burger, I ran into the jetty. There were no boats parked anywhere except on the far end which I assumed was ours. I ran towards the end of the jetty, and just before I reached our boat, two colleagues were running towards me, probably to pick me up from Chicking.
‘Where have you been?’ our HR Admin asked. I didn’t reply and just headed to the boat. When I hopped in, they were teasing me that I had to be quarantined because I roamed around Male’.
The other boat left already (there were two boats in total which brought us to Male’), and our boat captain started the engine as soon as I stepped in.
One of my escape partners was on the boat. I asked what was in his plastic bag. He said, shirt. I said I mentioned to them during our escape plan that I wanted to buy pajamas but they left me. He just laughed.
Five minutes after we left Male’ the HR admin received a call. We left someone, our Chef, so we had to go back. Imagine they didn’t wait for me. Then they might have reached the island before they realized Chef was left behind.
We reached the island at around 11:30pm, and I headed directly to the canteen where everyone was having supper already. My other escape buddy, who came back earlier, said he was able to buy his shirts. I showed him my burger.
The burger wasn’t as good, but I couldn’t complain. When you have nothing, everything you receive is good. I devoured it like I was starved for months.
I wondered what will be the side effects of the vaccine this time.
At 4:30am, I woke up and drank water; that’s the last drink I could take throughout the day until sunset as I was fasting. There were no signs of side effects yet.
I woke up at 8am to get ready for work, and still no side effects. At 11am, I went to sleep because I could not stand it. I was so sleepy. I woke up at 12:45 because I had two conference calls waiting for me. By the time I was done with the second call at 3:30pm, I was so exhausted and really thirsty. I went to bed and lay down even though I couldn’t sleep.
At sunset, I went to the canteen to break my fast. I had two glasses of watermelon juice, 3 pieces of dates, rice, sautéed veggies, and an omelet. After devouring my first meal of the day, my colleague who was in front of me told me to get another glass of watermelon juice. She said I looked like I’m about to faint. I felt strange. Usually, after breaking my fast with watermelon juice, I would feel rejuvenated. But that time, it was the opposite. I felt my arms and fingers were so weak. I had a coffee after my meal and still felt sleepy.
Luckily this time, the only side effects that I felt were the sleepiness and the pain on my left arm, where the injection was administered. And all of my colleagues who took the second dose didn’t experience any side effects except for one person. This person didn’t feel any side effects on the first dose but felt severe body pain after getting his second dose.
I am still a human and I didn’t turn into a zombie or monkey. Thank goodness.
After 14 days, I would be able to leave the island and come back and won’t be required to be quarantined for ten days. I’m so looking forward to that.